Saturday, 10 July 2010

How deep is your lace?

Was it all so bad? All that optimism in the 1960s? All that belief that the world could change, that all people were inherently heading for the same good, if only they could be loosened from the shackles that bound them.

40 odd years on, it looks to me like everybody had their own optimism and saw shackles on everyone else that were not really there. People were trying to change people even when they had no desire for change. The 1960s young adults behaved like the boy scouts on the Muppet Show; a cry of “You need First Aid” and bandages wrapped round every unsuspecting creature whether needed or not.

Then again I wasn’t there. I come from a deeply cynical, dark generation whose parents had gone around breaking shackles, finding new freedoms and inventing their own truths. Some of us were left high and dry, no moral guidance (you’ll find your own way, your own truth), nothing to cling to, no prayers etched on our hearts, no knowledge of our guardian angel, nothing to cling to with child like trust when things got really bad.

So now, reconciled with the Church, I hunger after Truth, I yearn for continuity and tradition, I seek beauty and silence and yet there is something dark within my soul. My parents’ generation sought to find Christ in all they met, they broke down barriers, they tore away at conventions, their love was radical and in many ways long lasting. Is my love deeper than theirs? I don’t think so, some of the light that drove them cast a deep shadow on me, leaving me introverted, introspective and suspicious, not exactly brimming with Christian virtues.

Many of those who entered the priesthood 40-50 years ago, have that radical love and it remains within them. They are caring pastors who will go the extra mile for anyone in need. They have effectively stuffed clericalism into the trash can where it belongs. They love Christ and are His devoted servants. Yet they feel something dark, they feel their light is threatened, they feel betrayed. They think they see in the Church today, something that shouldn’t be there, a return of blessings upon the elder son at the expense of a welcome for his “prodigal” brother. Yet their “kvetchings and mumblings” of betrayal leave them, to me, sounding like the Pharisees that Our Lord just couldn’t get through to no matter how hard he tried. In other words, they have become the elder son; loved but unloving. However this doesn’t stop me feeling for them with deep sorrow and love.

We are in a time of testing, we are being purified on our pilgrim way. It is only Christ who will lead us all home.

Remember folks, this is about “How deep is your love?” not “How deep is your lace?”


Anonymous said...

I keep coming back to that question: how deep is your love? Usually asking myself. The thing is, love is the only thing that can make any difference. St. Paul was right.

I think about the people missionaries don't reach, will never reach, about nominal Catholics who need to see a better example, or hear a better explanation, or Catholics who seem to think you can pick and choose, and I wonder, how are they going to make it? All the books in the world, all the internet connections, all the videos and DVDs and retreats, you name it, are not going to do the trick.

It is only love that has made the difference, that can make the difference. You can read about Jesus in all the books you can find, but meeting Jesus is a very different thing. Most of the time, people are supposed to meet Jesus in Christians.

We Christians are supposed to be so full of love for Christ, and for his sake for all of our brothers and sisters, that people can't help but meet Jesus through us.

But there is so much in-fighting and back-biting and back stabbing amongst Christians, amongst Catholics, that the world can't take us seriously. Can Christ be any better than Buddha or Mohammed or Harry Truman if Christians are no better than anyone else.

My love isn't very deep. I know I would be a much better person, a much better Catholic if my love for Christ and because of Christ were deeper. I'd be a better employee and a better husband and father if my love were deeper. And people would encounter Christ through me, they'd find him staring out of my eyes, in the work and touches of my hands and in the tenor of my voice if I had a deeper love.

When I read the Gospels, as opposed to Saint Paul (as if you can oppose the two) I take note that Jesus has a much shorter list of sins that will lead to condemnation. It comes down to mercy, which is love in action. If we haven't a deep love, then heaven is questionable. If we have no love, hell is a certainty.

(My lace isn't very deep either.)

Anonymous said...

Those words are from my heart too.
I've become increasingly sick of hearing about lace and embroidery where charity seems scant.
I too struggle with demons from the way I was brought up and taught.
I think I have found some peace in the Church that I have returned to.
I have also, thankfully, found some love there; perhaps that's the reason I have found peace.
I can't see how peace can come to a soul that isn't loved or cannot accept love. If you can't get or accept love, you will have no love to give.
I guess that's the epitome of despair.

Your recent kindness has touched me greatly. It's someone saying; what you do with your children is good and I will support you.
It means such a lot to me.
It's not so much what you gave me in material goods, but the fact that you have shown kindness (love) and support.
Thank you.
From one whose lace is both shallow and frayed.

Rita said...

Thanks Robert,

I should have replied earlier, but got distracted. That is a good post. I remember someone making the point about some Christian denominations being great about Christ but somehow embarrassed by Paul or vice versa. Embracing the whole of holy scripture is harder but it IS Catholic.

Thanks, Shell!
It works both ways!